Posts Tagged With: training

That moment

New Year’s Day 7.5 mile “Race” Report

A 7.5 mile foot race sponsored by the Greater Rochester Track Club is a New Year’s Day tradition in Rochester. 376 individuals, regardless of how late they stayed up the night before, braved below 25 degree and snowy weather to finish this “race”. Yes, “race” is in quotes because while some folks actually do race, I’m too slow to ever consider myself as “racing”.


So the race started at 10:00, I got up at 7:30 and struggled to put running clothes on. The weather looked cold and my iPad stated that temps at race time were going to be 21 degrees and snowing. I was sore from Pilates yesterday morning and eating junk all night. I just didn’t want to go.

Coffee consumption commenced and I took some time to surf the interwebs. Finally I browsed “trail- running” in my WordPress reader and found a race report on the Rodeo Valley 50k, and a nice blog about a 13-mile training run. These were pretty inspiring and made me want to get out there, until I looked out the window again at the coooold snow on my porch.

My wife came downstairs and could see that I was off. I gave her every excuse as to why I didn’t want to go, including the simple statement, “I just don’t want to.” What was the deciding factor to get me in my car to make the 5 minute drive to the start line? Well, I am cheap, and I already paid for this “race”, and dammit if I was not going get my money’s worth.  (BTW this “race” cost me $2 per mile. I will always give you cost per mile for any event I do, because I am cheap).

Parking sucked, the lot wasn’t plowed well, runners were fighting for spots so they could get their bibs and chips in time for the start, it was brutal. Thankfully I trusted my Forester to get me in and out of a deeper snowed-in spot (not sure how the Civic next to me fared after the race). Once parked, I got a half mile warm-up to the registration cabin to get my bib and chip and then another half mile warm-up back to the car to make “race” clothing decisions.

A note about clothing choices…

Hockey Bag

I am fond of saying, “there is no inclement weather, only poor clothing choices,” I am lying when I say this because of course there is inclement weather, anything that is not  68 degrees and slightly overcast is inclement. So the issue always becomes, what’s too much and what’s too little. In the summer it’s easy, you are going to be hot so shorts and a tech-shirt plus a hat if it’s sunny, bandanna if it’s not rule the day. 25 degrees with snow and possible changing wind conditions is more difficult to judge. My plan was a short-sleeved tech shirt with a Mountain Gear hooded liner with hat and gloves. I determined that would be too cold so changed by adding a heavy RoadWear jacket. Yeah, that was too hot, fortunately I packed a Saucony long-sleeved collared pullover and put that under the Mountain Gear liner and dropped the RoadWear jacket. Running tights were already on and I was not going through the a-ache to change them. But the final combo seemed just right. My biggest issues with all of this are the following: First, my running bag should not have to be larger and more packed than my son’s hockey bag. Secondly, changing in a Forester sucks, but not as bad as changing outside the Forester in 25 degree weather.

The Start


At the start line, 376 people crowded together. This  always reminds me of the mosh-pits of my youth. Although the clothing choices were bright yellow and green reflective jackets instead of Black Flag and Exploited T’s, most participants were waiting to take their first shower of the year after the race was over, so the crowding and the smell was similar (particularly because some folks clearly stayed up late the night before). Everybody was talking and whatnot so listening for the start commands was not possible. But I took it all in stride (this time) because I was content thinking that starting in the mob (yes 400 people is mob by my race standards) would keep my pace slow and would help me resist the urge to go out too fast like I always do. MISSION NOT ACCOMPLISHED. Mile one was a 7:54, I was actually anticipating 8:30s for the run, oh well, I can throw this race in the trash. (more on numbers in a later post). So I tried to settle in, making this my “strength-running” workout, I shortened my stride and increased turnover on the uphills, used gravity on the downhills, and recovered on the flats. (This was a hilly course). I tried to conserve energy but this other thing got in the way. I became obsessed with the mile markers and times (numbers). All of the “official” course markers were between .05 and.12 miles early, thus splits were being called out that made me feel really fast. My GPS was recording that I was on pace for an 8min/mile average race. Numbers, distance, pace, time, how to work the hills to maintain the pace, was I going to bonk because I didn’t fuel before the race….THIS IS NOT WHY I RUN! so why does it happen to me? Road races, ugh!


Mendon Ponds Snow

Just after the mile 4 marker, which was one-tenth of a mile early, there was a long hill with a slight incline. I somehow managed to settle into a nice pace using two women ahead of me (one with long silver hair, the other wearing a ballerina tutu) as my guides. The wind seemed to stop. The sun was attempting to peek through the clouds, and a gentle snowfall commenced. It was beautiful. For that moment, for that half mile, it all became worth it. All was right with the world. I was not too cold, nor too hot, I was at a comfortable, yet respectable pace, the surrounding Mendon Ponds Park scenery was gorgeous, and I was over half-way done with the event. THIS IS WHY I RUN. Sometimes it takes a while for the physical rhythm, my “physiological mantra” to kick in and remove all of the other stuff. At that moment the GPS did not matter, the course markings did not matter, wondering where Andy the guy who always beats me did not matter; I was at peace. When you have 4 kids, an ex-wife, a job that is in jeopardy every time a grant runs up, student loans, etc., peace is a needed commodity.


The peace was short lived as a left turn on Pittsford-Mendon Center Rd. brought colder temps a headwind, plus a brutal uphill after a substantial downhill, but the residual effects of the peaceful moment just propelled me to the finish. I caught those two ladies who were pacing me in the last mile and when I saw the clock had already struck 1 hour before I finished (I secretly wanted to break an hour) I was okay with it. It was a good run and a great way to start the New Year.

Post Race Musing

Every “race” brings its moment, sometimes it’s a social companionship moment, sometimes it’s overcoming a personal challenge, sometimes it’s a view, sometimes it’s a running insight that hits you, and sometimes it’s another insight unrelated to running. It’s that moment, always a moment of clarity, in which the world seems right and my place in it seems right that keeps me coming back.

Stats: (click on “Stats” for my Garmin read)

7.55 miles

1:00:27 (8min/mi)

102 place (out of 376, in the top third)

84th male (out of 213, not top third)

10th in age group (out of 19; mid pack)

More importantly, that guy Andy, my nemesis, beat me by 3 whole minutes (I knew he had a good run when he was already cooling down as I was 100 yards from the finish line.)

Categories: "Race" Reports, Running | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The “plan”

11 miles in the snow today!

This is the tentative training schedule. I say tentative because I am fairly undisciplined, and I also like trying new things. This plan is based off one I found online (dirtyrunning) that appealed to me. First because I tried the high mileage thing two years ago and burned out in September and this plan is relatively low mileage plan. Second, I found that a decade ago, if I concentrated on my long weekend runs and only got out once or twice during the week I had a bit of success, so I’m trying to regain the conditioning minus the burnout.

Tentative is the catchword here, not to give me an out on days I don’t want to run, but to give me options to do other things and not be a slave to training. The fact that I like looking for obscure fun trail races which cannot necessarily be scheduled according to my mileage “needs” and the need to be flexible for other events, sports, and kids requires my schedule to be tentative. Understand that I do this for fun; not for speed, not for glory, not for prizes. So here are the basics:

Mondays are core days. My sister teaches a Pilates class Mondays and Fridays at the YMCA directly across the street from where I work. Her classes are brutal and I have never enjoyed them (the two I went to). But, as I get older, I find that I’m losing a bit of core strength that is essential for negotiating technical single track, particularly technical downhills which I pride myself on being somewhat of an expert at doing. So I’m “committing” to once a week core building.

Wednesdays are the “Strength” running workouts. These are supposed to be 45 minutes to one hour runs pushing the uphills, or fartleks, or tempo runs. I know I said I’m not about speed, glory, or prizes, but these runs are essential for strength in the long run. Even if I’m not running an uphill 30 or 40 miles into a 50 miler, I still need the strength to summit. I also understand that running uphills uses different muscles than power-walking uphills, which is my strategy in ultra events, but I have a plan to build those muscles as well. The object for these “Strength” runs is to focus on the muscle groups the weekend long runs, and recovery runs don’t address; it is all a part of the balanced approach to ultras.

This is where the tentativeness of this schedule comes into play. Fleet Feet / Yellowjacket Racing in Rochester hosts a “SnowCheap” race series. These are six runs on Wednesday nights between 3 – 4 miles, on snowshoes. Depending on whether or not I enjoy the snowshoe race (I have zero experience in snowshoes) this upcoming Saturday and whether or not my kids’ schedules comply, I may find myself entering a few of these races and pushing hard. The key is getting out and working hard.

Weekends are dedicated to time on the feet. Primarily, the long run is done on Saturdays with a recovery run on Sundays. There are a couple of back to back long runs within the schedule and a few 50k/6hr organized events thrown in for “fun”. Even though the word ‘Easy’ follows many of the distance or time plans, ‘easy’ is relative. The intention here is to run slow; to simulate a 50 mile race in pace and strategy. This means going out slooooow, power-walking the hills, recovery on the flats, and gently pushing the downhills (really allowing gravity to do the work while concentrating on foot placement).

Note: there are a few ‘rest’ days on some of the weekends; they are either the day before or after an organized event. More than likely they will include a 2 mile slooooow jog just to keep loose and/or recover.

This leaves all of those 5 mile easy runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. These runs are ‘optional’ so long as activity happens on at least two of the three days. One of the other events that‘s been on my radar for the past two years is a triathlon but I can’t swim. Okay, I can dog paddle and thrash in the water and could probably do an Olympic distance, but would be too trashed to do the bike or run afterward. That said I might explore swim lessons at the YMCA on one of these ‘5 mile easy’ days, and when the weather gets warmer, hop on the bike on another one of these days.


Slow /recovery– 9-10 minute miles

Slooooow – 10 – 13 minute miles

Strength – tops out at 7:30 – 8 minute miles in fartlek or tempo runs.

This is it in grid form:

Click to see googledoc

Click to see googledoc

Next Up: Upstate NY, training in winter.

Categories: Running | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 50 Miler

Never do anything half-way; that has been how I approach many passions in my life, whether it’s music or running. The issue I have is not whether or not to throw myself into an event whole heartedly, it’s the discipline of preparing for it. Sure I’ll run that 50 miler, oh, you mean I should train for it?

A perfect example of this is two years ago I decided to run the Finger Lakes 50. I had signed up for it three months in advance and did very limited training. My training consisted of a couple of half-marathons and a couple of long training runs with the Oven Door Runners, ODR. On 4th of July weekend my wife, Amy, and I headed down to the Finger Lakes National Forest at 3 AM to make the 6 AM start. The plan was that Amy would go to town, Ithaca NY, for shopping and relaxing, I would run 50 miles, anticipating an 11.5 hour finish and call Amy to let her know to pick me up. Two problems occurred. First I was in no shape to run 50 miles and when I finished 50k in 7:18 (12 minutes before the cut-off for the 50 miler) I knew my day was done and dropped. Second, there is no cell phone reception in the Forest. Oh well, it was a nice long day.

A decade ago I was running strong, completing many ultras including: Bull Run Run in 2001, and 2002 both less than 11 hours. I won the KISS 50 miler (although I should mention that Monica Schultz’ 50 mile split on her way to a 100 mile finish, was two minutes ahead of my 50 mile finish. I DNF’d at 87 miles at MMT and finished 10th at Haliburton 100. Then I blew out my Achilles tendon at a 12 hour asphalt race (completing over 100k), and have struggled ever since to be consistent in training.

Massanutten Visitor

For the past ten years I have had this nagging annoyance in the back of my mind, ‘I have unfinished business at Massanutten’. At MMT 100, if you make it past 50 miles (Bird Knob) but DNF you become an ‘Official Visitor’ and are given a piece of the trail stating as much. You go on the VHTRC rolls until you come back and finish. The big annoyance of all of this is that MMT is the only 100 mile qualifier for Hardrock 100 in the east. I know I will never qualify for Boston, but Hardrock is a possibility. So this year I decided to see if I could get myself back to MMT shape in the next few years (2014?).

Did I mention I don’t do anything half way? I decided my start to this adventure would be to commit to at least two 50 milers. The first being the inaugural Cayuga Trails 50 on June 8th, followed in 4 weeks by the Finger Lakes Fifties. On the way there I am considering the Cast a Shadow 6 hr Snowshow race, the BPAC 6 hour, and the Highland Forest 1-2-3. Following the Finger Lakes Fifties is the possibility of the Can Lake 50, and Virgil Crest 50, or 100, closing the season with the Mendon Trail Runs (50k) which is almost literally in my back yard.

My intention with this blog is to post weekly updates regarding training, to help me stay consistent, and to get feedback from other runners.

Coming up:

The tentative training schedule

Categories: Running | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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